Celebrities who regret dieting
Jennifer Lawrence picture by Gage Skidmore
by the Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition Team
Even though strides have been made in the body-positive movement, we still live, by and large, in a diet-happy culture. Women’s websites and magazines try to promote body positivity, but they also publish news about the latest fad diets with annoying regularity. Both types of articles must be popular with audiences or they wouldn’t publish them, and I think that says a lot about us as women. We want to embrace body positivity, yet we’re still stuck thinking we have to be a size 6 (or what-have-you) to be “perfect.” Those who are older can remember when it was even worse: The body-positive movement wasn’t even a thing, so we lived in a world where bigger bodies were never celebrated in magazines or TV, not even a little. All of us –regardless of age — have been subtly brainwashed for years to think diets make us healthier and prettier, but the truth is health does not come from weight and all sizes are beautiful. Celebrities face even more pressure to look thin, but now more and more are speaking out about not dieting. Their voices are important because they have the reach to influence the most vulnerable.
Emma Thompson is one who is speaking out. In a recent interview with the Guardian she said, “Dieting screwed up my metabolism, and it messed with my head. I’ve fought with that multimillion-pound industry all my life, but I wish I’d had more knowledge before I started swallowing their crap. I regret ever going on one.”
Kate Upton has likely experienced even more pressure than Thompson, as a model. But she has said she’s refused to starve herself to become more commercial.
“I still want to hang out with my family and be a normal girl. You have to be confident, and that doesn’t mean starving yourself.”
Jennifer Lawrence, who had been pressured by Hollywood in the past to lose weight, told Vanity Fair that she simply cannot work without food, that she needs the energy it gives her for the day. “Dieting is just not in the cards for me.”
And that’s a great way to think about food – as something that provides you with energy, as fuel. That takes the emotion out of it. It’s not good; it’s not bad; it’s not a reward for doing well at work or a treat “just because.” Food is there so you can get through your day – so you can enjoy yoga class, so you can finish up those last-minute assignments your boss asks you to do, so you can play with your kids! And while all foods fit, you will likely want to choose foods that stay with you throughout the day, that give you nourishment so you can lead your life.
I’ve said this before, but I want us to get to a place where we go back to the original definition of diet (from all the way back in the 13th century!). It originally meant “habitual nourishment” and that’s what it should mean now. That means you take the time to listen to your body throughout the day and feed it regularly, being prepared for “hungry” moments with cheese sticks, Cliff Z bars, or similar snacks that’ll keep you going. And the snack does not always have to be a “healthy” one. Gone are the days of deprivation or treating food as the enemy.
You might think because I have a popular diet book out that I am pro-dieting, but I think of the Women’s Health Body Clock Diet as the anti-diet. Unlike traditional dieting, my book encourages you to consider your body’s needs and not your need to see a certain number on the scale. All foods fit, so have the ones you like (including cookies!) The goal is to create a whole new relationship with food and unlearn harmful messages you may have been taught in the past. It helps you avoid emotional eating and understand when your body actually is hungry (which can be quite difficult, as so many of us are used to mindless eating in front of the TV!). And the best part is once you understand how mindfulness in eating works, you can pass the wisdom onto your kids, helping them have a healthy relationship with food right from the beginning. (If you’re wondering what you can say to your child to promote mindfulness and healthy eating with your kids, check out this blog post.)
You may have spent a lifetime learning and internalizing destructive thoughts about food, so don’t expect it to turn around in a day. I hope you will look to the anti-diet celebrities and to my anti-diet book for some encouragement.